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Does online fundraising increase charitable giving? A nationwide field experiment on Facebook

Maja Adena and Anselm Hager

Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change from WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Abstract: Does online fundraising increase charitable giving? Using the Facebook advertising tool, we implemented a natural field experiment across Germany, randomly assigning almost 8,000 postal codes to Save the Children fundraising videos or to a pure control. We studied changes in the donation revenue and frequency for Save the Children and other charities by postal code. Our georandomized design circumvented many difficulties inherent in studies based on click-through data, especially substitution and measurement issues. We found that (i) video fundraising increased donation revenue and frequency to Save the Children during the campaign and in the subsequent five weeks; (ii) the campaign was profitable for the fundraiser; and (iii) the effects were similar independent of video content and impression assignment strategy. However, we also found some crowding out of donations to other similar charities or projects. Finally, we demonstrated that click data may be an inappropriate proxy for donations and recommend that managers use careful experimental designs that can plausibly evaluate the effects of advertising on relevant outcomes.

Keywords: Charitable giving; field experiments; fundraising; social media; competition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 D12 D64 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2024, Revised 2024
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur, nep-exp and nep-pay
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2020302r2

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